What is a Spirited Child?
Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child, has identified spirited children as showing high intensity, persistence, sensitivity, perceptiveness and low adaptability. Some spirited children also show high energy levels, irregular eating and sleeping rhythms, negative first reaction and a serious, analytical mood.
Spirited children are challenging to parent because they notice and feel things in the world around them and their own bodies in a much stronger way than most children. Dr. Sears identifies a similar set of characteristics in what he calls a high needs child, although many of Dr. Sears’ characteristics apply more to infants, such as frequent feeding or needing to be carried constantly.
Parenting a Spirited or High Needs Child
If you are the parent of a spirited or high needs child, you’ve probably already noticed that much of the standard parenting advice just doesn’t work for your child. Raising Your Spirited Child is an excellent resource for parents of spirited children. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka presents a comprehensive approach for parents who are learning how to reduce tantrums and conflict with their spirited child, and she covers a child’s physiology and psychology in the same easygoing, conversational style as sample conversations and anecdotes from other parents of spirited children.
Raising Your Spirited Child also takes into account the fact that a spirited child is likely to have at least one spirited parent from whom they inherited these traits, so the parenting advice is often as much about parents dealing with their own spirited temperament as it is simple tips for dealing with spirited children.
Resources for Parents of Spirited Children
In addition to Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka has also written a workbook for parents, the Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook. This workbook is designed for parents to learn the skills they need to recognize and work positively with their child’s spirited traits in order to prevent blow-ups and conflict.
Dr. Sears’ The Fussy Baby Book addresses the difficulties of parenting a high needs baby, but focuses primarily on high needs infants and the Dr. Sears style of attachment parenting, so this might not be such a useful resource if you are not willing to breastfeed or co-sleep with your baby.
If you’re struggling to parent your high needs or spirited child, remember that you are not alone. Many other parents are struggling to find solutions that work with their strong-willed, intense and highly sensitive children, and there are resources out there to help you learn the skills you need to work together with your child to prevent blow-ups and tantrums. Whether you have a high-needs baby or a spirited school age child, a loving and understanding approach can help you find solutions that work for your family.
Originally published on Suite101.com on June 4, 2009